Detective Blacksad gazed to the floor, looking at some footprints. Yet I can’t see these footprints, at first I thought maybe I needed to enable some special panther vision, then I realised the game was having a meltdown. Sadly that was one of many issues that plagued my time with the game, which is a shame as there is actually a good game under the mess.
You play as Detective John Blacksad, who after serving in the war becomes a private eye in 1950s New York. After just finishing an adultery case, in which you nearly meet your maker via an angry Rhino man, you are hired to find out what really happened to a famous boxing gym owner, Joe Dunn. He was found hanging in said gym. As with any detective story things aren’t always what they seem, so expect some twists and turns along the way.
Story-wise its a game drenched in moody Noir, narrated by the titular character Detective Blacksad, it has all the Noir beats you’d expect. The spin on this is that the characters that inhabit this game are all anthropomorphic denizens that can walk and talk, drive cars and potentially commit heinous crimes.
This narrative adventure akin to the Telltale Games plays out pretty much the same. You’ll walk around areas with points of interest to interact with, have dialogue choices and timers when talking to people and make decisions which will alter the way the story plays out. In fact, the game as a whole reminded me The Wolf of Among Us mixed with L.A Noire, two top-notch titles, in the way the game played out.
As you are a detective, you can rest assured you’ll find clues, evidence and collect peoples statements on events that unfold. You’ll make connections if you have the correct information which will resolve questions quicker if done correctly. True to the genre it draws from, Blacksad doesn’t particularly fall on either the good side or the bad side of the law. Certain decisions will question his morals, deciding to take a bribe may come back to haunt you later on.
While you do visit a number of locations, you do so and an incredibly slow pace. Made worse by some less than speedy loading screens. You cannot run in Blacksad, rather than just walking, but even then that’s difficult to do right. The movement doesn’t flow well, tank like controls rear their ugly head making it extremely cumbersome to manoeuvre around obstacles.
Unfortunately this isn’t the only issue arising in Under the Skin, I ran in a number of problems from the get go. Visuals left a lot to be desired, in some instances textures made things unreadable without subtitles. Pressing options would cause the screen to rapidly change colour and as mentioned at the start, things in the game wouldn’t show or trigger, halting progress rapidly.
During the writing of this review, I had to re-install the game twice, I experienced a few hard crashes losing progressing along the way. The developers are aware of these issues and it is understood they’re working to fix them, but in its current state, the game is sadly at times unplayable.
Underneath its current broken state, the story is a great one. The Telltale approach to design complements the story in a very satisfying way. Yet until the game has its issues ironed out and sorted I couldn’t at all recommend spending money on it, which is a shame.
If anything this game led me to read some of the comics, which I would highly recommend.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*